The Spring Onslaught

T.S. Eliot once called April the cruelest month, but New York theatergoers know better—it’s really the craziest month. That’s because all the Broadway producers rush about opening their shows before the deadline for Tony Award consideration, which generally comes the last week in April or first week in May. This year, the boom drops April 29th. Any show debuting after that date (like the long-awaited Spider-Man musical or Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera sequel) falls into the 2010-11 season and thus out of this year’s Tony focus.

As they have been for the last several seasons, most Broadway theaters are full, with many opening shows throughout this not-so-cruel month. Here’s a look:

THE ADDAMS FAMILY
Uncertain reviews out of town haven’t hindered the buzz on this new musical and why should they? It’s penned by the team who wrote Jersey Boys, stars Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia, and features other beloved characters who should prove irresistible to kids and nostalgic parents alike. (Opens April 8 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre)

AMERICAN IDIOT
America’s working-class youth, as studied by Green Day, first on a blockbuster album and now in a musical that wowed the crowds and critics in its debut last year at Berkeley Rep. Director Michael Mayer also staged Spring Awakening, so he should know his way about disenfranchised kids breaking into rock and roll rebellion. (Opens April 20 at the St. James Theatre)

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES
Didn’t like the tacky-looking revival five years ago? Here’s another chance to savor Jerry Herman’s eminently hummable score and the shenanigans of an aging gay couple playing it straight to fool their conservative inlaws-to-be. Kelsey Grammer and English thesp Douglas Hodge co-star. (Opens April 18 at the Longacre Theatre)

LEND ME A TENOR
Don’t you love farce? You can hear Catherine Zeta-Jones sing that in A Little Night Music, but if you want to see it, get ye to the Music Box Theatre where Monk’s Tony Shalhoub and Without a Trace’s Anthony LaPaglia are co-starring in a revival of Ken Ludwig’s Tony-nominated comedy, Lend Me a Tenor. (Opens April 4)

LIPS TOGETHER, TEETH APART
Expect a starry cast and, perhaps, a swimming pool in this Roundabout revival of Terrence McNally’s rueful comedy about money and self-absorption in the era of AIDS. (Opens April 29 at the American Airlines Theatre)

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
On December 4, 1956, Carl Perkins, of “Blue Suede Shoes” fame, was about to record a few sides at Sun Records when owner Sam Phillips brought along Jerry Lee Lewis to play piano. Also in the building that day: Sun artist Johnny Cash, who joined them on a few pop and gospel tunes. Then, sometime in the afternoon, Elvis Presley walked in… (Opens April 11 at the Nederlander Theatre)

PROMISES, PROMISES
Kristin Chenoweth returns to Broadway as Miss Kubelik in Promises, Promises, the musical fashioned by Neil Simon and songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David out of Billy Wilder’s great film comedy The Apartment. Before Dionne Warwick nabbed it, this is where “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” came from. (Opens April 25 at the Broadway Theatre)

RED and ENRON
Yes, dear readers, there are actually two straight plays on this list (both from England, natch). John Logan’s Red catches troubled painter Mark Rothko (played by Alfred Molina) trying to create a masterpiece; Lucy Prebble’s Enron looks at a major corporation collapsing because of accounting fraud, circa 2001 (you know, back when Bernie Madoff was still a rainmaker). (Red opens April 1 at the John Golden Theatre; Enron opens April 27 at the Broadhurst Theatre)

FENCES
August Wilson won the 1987 Pulitzer for this drama, about an embittered ex-Negro League ballplayer who cheats on his wife and browbeats his son yet simultaneously embodies a strong sense of justice and racial dignity. (Opens April 26 at the Cort Theatre)